Updated: Dec 28, 2019
By Nandini Rao
Contributing Author for Spark Igniting Minds
Relationships are about discovering what’s possible in being human beyond the places where, unknowingly or knowingly, we might limit ourselves. - David Cunningham
This is a story that took place in the latter half of the last century.
Sakhi grew up to be a confident girl. Her mother, a homemaker, used part of her time of the day (mostly in the absence of her husband) to teach stitching and embroidery to her neighbors for a fee. She was a proud woman and did not want to ask more money from her already financially burdened husband.
With such a strong and independent idol of a woman in her mother, Sakhi grew up with a mindset which emphasized that women needed to be strong, independent and inspirational. While she was developing into a youngster with these qualities, certain fundamental questions gnawed her conscience.
"When my mother is doing her best to ease the financial burden of my father, why doesn’t my father appreciate her efforts? Why does he resent her earnings, however meager they are?"
"My father often tells people that he will bring up daughters to be as strong and confident as sons; then why does he fight with my mother, when she is earning money (the man’s prerogative) to ease his burden?"
Many times, Sakhi voiced these questions out loud to her mother and her father. Her mother would shut her up saying – that is how men are! And her father would shut her up saying – look what an impudent daughter I have raised that she dares to question her parents’ behavior.
Eventually, Sakhi completed her studies and found a job for herself. Soon she appeared for her first interview and she got the job! Reveling in her newly found independence, Sakhi was happy to be finally strong enough to break the stereotypical mold of a girl; proud to be financially independent to take care of her own needs and save something up. She was also basking in the glory of praises of her friends and relatives of what an inspiration she was to other girls. Oddly enough, her father too was extremely proud of his strong, independent and ideal daughter! Sakhi wondered why her father gloated over her for the very same qualities for which he loathed his wife. Questions, questions, and questions! There were so many questions, yet no answer that could satisfy Sakhi.
When she was engaged to Rituraj, she made it clear to him, that after marriage she would not pursue a career out of the home but would supplement his income by doing something from home. Rituraj was not very serious about the future, and so he agreed.
Sakhi put across this request to Rituraj because she knew that she can either run the home perfectly or pursue a career. She couldn’t manage both. She was afraid that if she attempted it, one of them would end up disastrous!
FAST FORWARD 15 YEARS!
Sakhi was now a married woman and a mother of a 7-year-old daughter.
Like every middle-class woman, struggling to make ends meets in Mumbai, Sakhi took up work as a secretary to the top boss in a growing private company. Her attempts to supplementing the income from home and being a homemaker for the rest of the time were dashed to the ground. 4 years after she wed Rituraj, he insisted that she should be going out to pursue a proper career, partly because she did not get along well with his parents and partly because a little extra income in the household kitty would not hurt. Much to her chagrin and against her own will, she qualified herself with secretarial skills and started to work in the office.
Ever since the day she had begun to work, her in-laws made her feel guilty about leaving the child at a daycare center for children, guilty about her not being at home during the daytime to help her aging in-laws; guilty about not getting completely involved in household matters; guilty about not being a good daughter-in-law of the household.
On the other hand, her husband would not hear from her about giving up her job and fulfilling those matters which were important to his parents. On his part, he spared no effort to make her feel guilty for not pursuing a career to secure their future.
The son was not willing to confront his parents, neither the parents were willing to confront the son in this matter. It worked for everybody in the house except her., Sakhi was torn between the two interests and ended up working late into the night. She was doing the utmost that could be done to satisfy her in-laws and wake up early in the morning to face the day. She related to her responsibilities as a burden forced upon her. She was completely caught in the grind; not a moment for herself; not a moment for her parents nor the satisfaction of fulfilling relationship - neither with her husband nor with her in-laws.
Years of being resigned to this fate resulted in a complete relationship breakdown between Sakhi and her in-laws, who blamed her for not being a good daughter in law; and between Sakhi and Rituraj, who blamed her for the lack of peace at home.
Rituraj, who considered his parent's words to be the Gospel, was let down by Sakhi when she failed to match up to the expectations of his parents. This attitude did nothing to keep the relationship together and it drove them far apart. They were a couple, more resigned to fate and indulging in the blame game and defending game, rather than a couple making efforts to get the marriage working. Hatred permeated the atmosphere at home.
At one point, Sakhi and Rituraj would have been relieved to be free of each other, but they stuck on the fractured relationship, for the sake of their daughter.
FAST FORWARD, ANOTHER 13 YEARS!
Sakhi was done with pretending and living a life for others! She had to find herself, a purpose to her life and enrich her life which till then was wasted! She wanted to muster up enough courage to walk out on the farce of marriage! The last thing, she wanted in her life, was this failed marriage. She hated her husband and loathed the thought of spending the rest of her life with him.
At the crossroads in life and also at her career, she vowed to transform her life, whatever it took her. She enrolled for a Life Transformation Program and immersed herself, completely in the Program. The curriculum was extremely demanding on her and she had to, at every step confront her ego, let go of it, adopt a new attitude, and stick to the newly acquired shift. Working on the curriculum, she emerged as a caterpillar which braves the pain of squeezing itself out of the cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly!
She realized that all the time when she was trying to fix things and people around her, she never thought that she and only she was responsible for the misery in her life. The first challenge she took up in her life was to transform her relationship with her husband. Not quite sure, if she could, nevertheless, she took it up.
Today, after almost three and a half decades of marriage disaster, she has the best relationship of her life. It is her relationship with her husband.
I started writing this article with the quote that I, once again, would repeat below:
Relationships are about discovering what’s possible in being human beyond the places where, unknowingly or knowingly, we might limit ourselves.
There is MAGIC in this quote!
The relationship that Sakhi had with her husband, much to her surprise, was not that of hatred, but that of a deep-rooted commitment she had to their marriage. Sakhi thought it was never possible, that there could be reconciliation with her husband, but it was the limitation that she knowingly and unknowingly put on herself! That LIMITATION drove her away from her own capabilities and her own strength.
She lost touch with her humanity during the years she spent struggling to make her life work! Any relationship thrives only when it is touched by the magic called HUMANITY, ACCEPTANCE, and FORGIVENESS!
Her renewed relationship with her husband was about discovering her humanity, beyond her circumstances and the limitations to release it into the ocean of the life of happiness and fulfillment, lying beyond the mist of her self-pity and ego!
Like Sakhi, a lot of us are so resigned and resentful of circumstances and people, that it blinds us to our own goodness, our own strength, our own greatness. We begin to falsely believe that we are not capable of going beyond the limit that we have put on ourselves.
If we, like Sakhi, are willing to put ourselves at stake, our long-held beliefs, our righteousness, our strong sense of right and wrong behind us and are willing to relearn the new approach of playing the game of life, of getting back in touch with our HUMANITY, GENEROSITY, AND FORGIVENESS, we will be ready to welcome happiness and fulfillment in our lives!
About Nandini Rao
Nandini Rao is a Transformation Coach with in-depth exposure to several business functions.
An internationally certified coach, she is committed to coaching people to raise the quality of their lives and achieve their goals.
Her writings reflect the depth of her understanding of life and people. Her ability to relate to people instantly makes her an excellent coach, mentor, and builder of lasting and meaningful relationships.